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BUSINESS NEWS


‘Digital channels empower agents on high street’


Agents on the high street are being empowered by technology to provide improved levels of customer service in stores, according to Tui. Chief marketing officer Katie


McAlister said Tui takes a “blended approach”, with customers offered the choice of walking into stores, going online or engaging with its call centre or online chat service. “We don’t mind where people


book because we have all bases covered and when they want assurance or expert advice they will go looking for it. “We are giving agents more tools


to enable them to manage more of the customer journey. “We’ve got to be confident that we have brilliant products and that


the customer will come back if they walk out of the shop, whether they book online or on the app. “We have to have courage in our


strategy and empower our people to execute it. Tat’s empowerment of the teams in the offline channel with digital.” McAlister added: “I’m always


super-proud every time I spend time in retail because genuinely our customers love our travel agents. It’s fantastic and humbling to see.”


Agents warned against charging service fees


Charging service fees may be common practice for some online agents, but travel firms were warned of the dangers of following suit. Panellists were asked for their views on the practice of charging


Katie McAlister, Tui


for services such as making a booking, adding a bag to an airline ticket or using a contact centre. Virgin Atlantic vice-president


for customer service Daniel Kerzner said Virgin does not charge customers for services offered by its contact centre. “Where consumers get really


frustrated is when they have to pay to complain or to be on hold before someone picks up,” he said. “So, we have to be smart about


how we do it. We have to give customers the easiest options to make a booking. We also need to be flexible, so if that person has a question and wants to call, be clear what it is we are charging for. Tui’s chief marketing officer


Katie McAlister said: “We don’t charge a fee to book a holiday. And our prices are really transparent. “We do have different prices in


our shops. So customers can decide whether they want that expertise or not, and that’s part of that choice model.”


Ocean Holidays sees offline growth


A renaissance is taking place among travel clients choosing to talk to someone before making their purchase, Travel Weekly’s Business Breakfast was told. Daniel Ox of Ocean Holidays said


the company had made a success of deploying technology and processes to assist its contact centre agents to transact over the phone from leads driven online. And he said the group’s Winged


Boots concierge travel service is growing at 40% a year and has a 75% repeat customer rate having done no digital advertising in its eight years. Te brand does not have a


customer reservation management system and launched its first website only last year, said Ox. “Our agents’ contacts are still in black


travelweekly.co.uk We offer a better


service over the phone – there’s a renaissance in people wanting to speak to other humans


books siting on their desks. “All of its advertising is meeting


people, it’s referrals. Teir marketing strategy is events, it’s not Google AdWords. Absolutely, there’s a space for offline and it’s a growing space for us.” Ox said Ocean Holidays has a


sales process in which every web lead is placed into one of 18 segments and funnelled to the most relevant individual in the contact centre to


deal with their enquiry. “Clients who call the contact


centre are highly researched and know what they are looking for. So it’s a challenge to educate our staff to make sure they are more knowledgeable than our clients. “We make sure that each customer


is matched to someone who is capable of delivering the best experience and best product to that customer. “We call it sales acceleration;


allowing our agents to make bookings quickly and efficiently all through technology and the way we have automated processes through the contact centre. “We just feel we offer a beter


service over the phone, and I think there’s a renaissance in people wanting to speak to other human beings.”


30 MAY 2019 Daniel Ox, Ocean Holidays 71


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